Dr. Rhonda Meadows of Providence Health
How do you manage community health with a large organization like Providence where you have facilities scattered across several different markets?
We are big and small. We truly believe that health care is delivered locally to individual patients, their caregivers and health care providers. At the same time, we use our size. We cover seven states. And this means that when we go and find experience, tools, purchases, investments – we can use our size to better use the resources that we acquire. But when we provide real help, it happens at the local level.
What technologies do you use to identify areas of need in each community?
We have a large number of people who have helped us create the proprietary platform that we use. You use an electronic health record, but you also use claim data to get an idea of how often they seek health care. You can also use this to supplement information about the use of medical care.
We complement this with information about the social determinants of health, both public and private. And then we actually ask people how they rate their health outcomes, how they perceive access to health care, and what we could do better.
It’s a combination of a lot of resources bundled together and we’ve put them on a common platform so that all members of our team can access them at the appropriate level. This platform is called Community Pathways to Health. This helps us cope not only with COVID-19, but with every area of work we have to do as we try to close health inequalities.
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How do you put these ideas into practice?
First, we made everyone aware of what is really going on in their communities. This was really important because not everyone understood what health inequalities were, which populations were affected and how they were affected. We took this information and developed a five-year strategic plan.
We have focused on COVID-19 and a range of very well defined health disparities affecting different populations. From Alaska to Texas, we care for people of all nationalities, ethnicities, races, languages, gender identities, disability levels, and mental health.
We took this information and used data-driven interventions to make measurable improvements. Some of these improvements are related to social determinants in the community, such as homelessness, access to food, access to transportation for healthcare, or access to telemedicine services. Some of them are aimed at real help for certain conditions, such as colon cancer screening and treatment, breast cancer screening and treatment, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, psychiatric and substance use disorders.
As we build these interventions at the community level, we also make sure to stick to the old adage, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t measure it.” So data informs, but data also tells us about our progress and how effective we are. There needs to be a measurable improvement, and part of that measurable improvement is not just clinical and medical outcomes, but how people perceive their health. And that means that consumers can actually contribute to their experience.